Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times- Daniel Delatte

September 19, 2017

Coates writes this book much like Pascal Bruckner did in his piece The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse. The only difference is that he doesn’t go about blaming anyone. He’s a “neither nor” type of guy, where he even refers to the Nazi’s in one of his arguments. He also chooses to explain things in the easiest manner breaking it up into subjects inside the chapter. The style, however, is the same to Bruckner’s where he goes on bringing about points and defending them in the next. He constantly reverts back to things that occurred previously in history to show how people of that time would handle situations of improper ecology. He uses many sources, like the Bible, which is something we’ve seen a lot of these environmental authors do. It’s interesting to me to see it done so often by these scientific scholars who you wouldn’t think would try to acknowledge it in their works because of their backgrounds. I think what he addressed early on in the book, the responsibility aspect of it, was most important because of exactly what he said, “no human society has ever lived completely inside or outside of environmental change.” I don’t see how we could play the blame game on something that’s going to happen regardless of who’s inhabiting the land at what time.


Nature part 1 reflection and news

September 19, 2017

The first part of Nature was interesting, but I thought it discussed a lot of things with very little detail and then repeated the same ideas over and over again.  It also seemed like there was a lot of information that didn’t exactly relate to the topic of the attitudes that people have had of nature, though Coates obviously interpreted that differently, I just didn’t always understand the link and he didn’t point it out specifically.

I think it is interesting to look at the changing definition of nature through time, but the common link of otherness.  It seems that in some way nature has always been a structure separate from humans, and with some sort of mysticism to it, despite that it has changed from being a place set aside for gods, a place to be feared, to a place that as humans is our rightful claim and we must conquer it, to a place to be held above all others and protected.

The amount with which Coates seems to believe Christianity has played in the destruction of nature kind of surprised me. As a Christian who has always really cared about the environment, I have never interpreted the Bible as saying that humans have a right to everything and can just destroy the earth, I’ve had the more Franciscan view of needing to conserve things and all creatures being important in God’s creation.  However, I do understand where Coates and others have seen that Christianity has played a role in the destruction of nature.

I also think it’s really common for people to assume that pre-Columbian societies had little or no negative impact on the natural world surrounding them, and I think this mostly has to do with the racist views of those peoples being more like animals, and therefore more closely related to nature.  I think its important to look back and see that humans have always impacted the environment, and changed their surroundings, and its important to note that no society was perfect in their efforts to not do this, so we shouldn’t be taking all of our cues from any one society.  However, I think it is also important to note that the impact we are having right now is much higher than it has been in the past whether because of the large increase in population, our changed food source, or increased use of fuels.

This book gives a very baseline understanding of how nature has been interpreted and how we have interacted with it over the years, but it also shows how we got to the beliefs that we have, and may hold a key as to how we can continue to change ideas about nature and its importance to society, not as separate entities, but as two parts of a whole.


Great Britain has officially decided to stop using coal as a source of energy.  They have recently converted or closed many coal plants including the world’s largest plant: Drax Power Station.  This is especially significant because coal has been one of the main drivers of Britain’s economy since its beginning and is what put them on the map as an empire during the industrial revolution.  By 2025 the UK plans on completely removing the use of coal, which is an extremely dirty fuel.  This has been a common trend in the developed world, though places such as the US, Germany, and Austria have not begun to follow suit.

Allie Niemeyer’s Fanatacism post

September 12, 2017

Response to Fanaticism of the Apocalypse:


I found this book interesting, it seemed that Bruckner had some good points regarding how we are fighting humans and persecuting ourselves, though I felt that he did a lot of complaining about how we are giving up all of our virtues for this undeterminable event that is probably either a farce or has no answer, but he didn’t really expand on how he thinks we should approach the problem.  I think it’s fair to say that modern ecologists tend to back ideas that decrease our global impact without any regard as to what this means in the face of progress and I also think that its important to think critically about where the place of humans is if we are considering both human progression and minimizing impact.  If we are going to figure out how to combat problems such as how to optimally help conserve nature while determining the place of humans in this world we need to understand the arguments presented in the book.

Something I didn’t like about the book was that it seemed to be attempting to discredit all ecological conservation efforts as being radical defeatist ideas or insignificant acts.  Most of the examples Bruckner was citing were very radical, intermixed with pretty normal conservation efforts, which attempted to say that all the ideas were ridiculous and asking too much, when they don’t really even affect the individual’s life once the change is implemented.  For example, there are people who believe that we should have mass human death to regain a sustainable population, and he places this argument with the idea that we should sort our garbage into recycling and compost and implies that both are equally arbitrary and unattainable, but obviously killing a bunch of humans is a lot more difficult and moral changing than sorting your garbage, which is both more attainable and doesn’t really change our way of life.

I think it is important to note, as Bruckner did, that we can’t be 100% certain of climate change and its exact effects, and as he states, convictions are dangerous and we can’t predict exactly what will happen just because of our models.  However, unlike Bruckner I don’t think this means that we should just avoid the science altogether and pretend like nothing will (or is) happen(ing).  I also don’t think that taking preventative measures means that we have to give up the human ideal of progression, nor does it mean that we have to give up all worldly pleasures or desires, and I think it’s important to find a balance.

I like when Bruckner talks about vegetarianism and this contradictions of this lifestyle.  He discusses how not eating meat products in order to help decrease our carbon (methane) footprints, while all well and good, brings up a philosophical problem of what we are deciding to conserve, who we are deciding to protect, and whether it should be in our rights to annihilate livestock populations in order to feed humans.  I think that this is important, something to be discussed, though I believe we should keep in mind that it isn’t entirely dissimilar from the game hunting that we allow for population control.

I disagree with Bruckner’s opinion on why we conserve things, and that this is out of our own greediness, wanting more of certain things like wilderness, and though I don’t think this is entirely wrong or an unprecedented opinion, I think that taking this stance is a polarizing viewpoint.  Though there are many things that are chosen to be conserved over other things due to bureaucratic opinions on what is best for humanity to conserve, and like Leapold said in the Sand County Almanac, we each have our own biases on what we would personally want to conserve, Bruckner’s viewpoint says that we only do this out of greediness, and therefore should not conserve them, which I think is an incomplete argument.

I think it’s really good to look at a book like this because it shows a public opinion shared by a large percentage of the population, that doesn’t necessarily match that of the general population we surround ourselves with, and understanding their viewpoint is an important part of creating a discourse to farther spread sustainability ideas and climate change science.  Bruckner, though not necessarily intentionally, spreads the ideas of climate change deniers, something that I intend to help combat, so I think it’s good to look at their arguments and rationale.


News: Young birds suffer in the city

New research from Lund University in Sweden shows that birds in urban environments undergo more stress than those in rural environments and therefore, birds under the age of 1 year old are less likely to survive in urban environments.  I think it’s more interesting though, that they showed no increase in stress for adult birds, and no increase in mortality.  This means the birds are able to adapt to their environment.

Daniel Delatte–Desert Solitaire Edward Abbey Blog

September 5, 2017

Desert Solitaire

  • How he describes the wilderness: pg. 1. “Abbey’s country, the red wasteland
    • life not crowded upon life pg 31
    • wilderness is a necessary part of civilization pg 58

Civilization vs wilderness:

Describes U.S. I60 as a place of rubbish. pg. 5

the ways the purpose of the park serv has been interpreted due to advancements  like autos…-what has become industrial tourism

“treat our forests and mountains as holier than churches” 65

Big emphasis on the creation of things naturally.

wants to know and possess and embrace the desert like a woman pg. 6- he was a womanizer though?

more than one way in which one can get lost (when you describe wilderness it doesn’t have to be a place lost in by direction): Abbey was lost in silence pg. 13.

  • abbey would rather kill a human than a snake “i’m a humanist” pg 20
    • but kills a rabbit and leaves it?? pg 41
  • he uses scientific names for everything he finds.
  • hates greenhouses and potted plants..

*doesnt care for ants* pg 32

  • what kind of man is abbey? small needs, infinite desires, and philosophic pretensions. pg 51
  • limit roads in wild by having gov programs that have ppl out of cars exploring like free bikes pg 66… i like to an extent but that defeats the purpose of camping if your providing everything and living through someone else.. not wild
  • “let them get lost, sunburnt, drown, eaten by bears” kinda wild bro 69
  • the sublime awe that he gets he relates it to God.

am i tyring to understand nature through abbeys eyes??

relationships between nature-organisms-other organisms

snake in trailer

moth and yucca plat

the arch and nature can either be for or against God’s existence… i like the spiritual take pg. 44

“whether we live or die is a matter of absolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert. let men in their madness blast every city on earth into black rubble and envelop the entire planet in a cloud of lethal gas–the canyons and hills the springs and rocks will still be here, the sunlight will filter through, water will form and warmth shall be upon the land and after sufficient time, no matter how long, somewhere living things will emerge and join and stand once again, this time perhaps to take a different and better course. in new mexico where our wise men had exploded the atomic bomb grass has returned.” 334



makes me want to go

“what little thinking i do is on gov time” lol pg 48

where rangers are going quietly nuts answering the same 3 q’s 500 times a day

i guess the level of sublimeness varies on what you are used to… i was amazed at the small things..just how clear the water was up north in minnesota and in the cascades

unlike to many authors (like the one cronon spoke of in the misconception), nature isn’t contaminated once human steps foot in it. that happens when roads are built through and developments that make for enjoyment that could have been done without.

cool quotes:

we are preoccupied with time. if we could learn to love space as deeply as we are now obsessed with time, we might discover a new meaning in the phrase to live like men. 72

controversial quotes:

so the indians will be back to take their land? “what about the indians? there are no indians in the arches country now; they all left seven hundred years ago, and wont be back for a long time.” 124

“the ancient canyon art of Utah belongs in that same international museum without walls which makes african culture, equally interesting…” 125 how do you feel about museums? take things from the world where from where they belong? burial mounds, sacred masks, etc.

the navajos still have a home of their own—the reservations.” 131 the land that they were moved off which everyone lives on while they’re given the land which no one wants? hoods, ghettos would be considered this then… i guess the do have it better a couple are lucky enough to have casinos

Link of pictures to relate to:

Allie Niemeyer Desert Solitaire and News

September 5, 2017



Desert Solitaire described a very different view of wilderness, preservation, and civilization than the Meadowlands.  I think Abbey’s opinion shows more of the frontier man attitude, taking on the “untouched” wilderness, only wanting those who will truly leave civilization behind in order to come to the park to experience it.  This is the more common viewpoint I think most “tree-hugger” environmentalists have.  Abbey finds his paradise in Arches, which does bring a new viewpoint, as most people cling to the beach or the mountains or the forest, but he clings to the desert.

I think this book shows more of the internal struggle that I feel when talking about wilderness than Meadowlands.  For example, Abbey talks about how he feels that there must be places set aside as wilderness that go unchanged by humans, or at least which aren’t “industrially toured” and are, rather, experienced like a frontier man would experience them.  He also says that the places should be set aside regardless of whether people have the ability to see them, simply for them to have the idea of the ability to escape to these places.  However, he feels that it is important for people to be a part of society as well as be a part of nature, and I think in this argument his ideas are not fully fleshed out.  Abbey feels very strongly about this point but because he is coming at the issue from a strictly environmentalist viewpoint he is missing the discussion on how to be a part of both worlds, and is only including how to separate yourself from society and why to do so.

Another thing that Abbey discusses is the idea that National parks should be, as was their original intent, and the original purpose of the parks department in regards to these parks, left essentially unaltered by humans.  This is an idea I have a hard time with, because I agree that when people tear down the forests to make roads or make bridges over land gaps and mess with the natural beauty of the land, that they are destroying an important aspect of the National parks.  However, I also understand that in terms of utilitarianism, when the parks are inaccessible to the majority of people, and are therefore being left unvisited, that they are not serving their economic purpose and that its really difficult to justify this to people who don’t care about the environment or who don’t have the opportunity to visit these places, and therefore only get the theory of these places.  I understand the difficulty and the necessity of setting these places aside, and so I have a hard time with this particular question of how much is acceptable to change for nothing but human entertainment.

I found it interesting that Abbey did talk about the dangers of the desert, the unpredictability, the poisonous species, the lack of water, the quicksand.  This was something brought up as an important part of wilderness, as opposed to nature, that I hadn’t really ever considered, because where I have been, there are trails, there are people removing poisonous species and placing them away from where the humans are, there are marked off areas of danger, and guard rails, so what I have considered wilderness has never given me a sense of danger, but just an idea of wonder and strange power.  However, I think that it is important to understand the danger of wild places, but I don’t know that it is particularly important to fear it.

I really liked the contemplation of what makes the desert unique, I thought that this was important because this is something that comes up a lot when people who don’t understand where you’re coming from when you talk about how great a place is or how different, or whatever, and I have come across similar questioning.  I agree that it is a difficult question to answer, and I think Abbey hits the nail on the head when he says that the problem is two-fold, because you not only have to figure out the exact thing that makes a place unique, which is kind of indescribable, and then you have to figure out why that indescribable uniqueness is different from other place’s indescribable uniqueness.

I also think it is worthwhile to discuss closing all the roads and only allowing people to bike or walk (66)


NEWS: New fruit varieties coming to market thanks to U of G research

In University of Guelph, Canada, there are researchers who have developed 2 new late-producing plum varieties, and 2 new early-producing peach species.  They believe that these may help with food sustainability in Canada, as currently their fruit produces a little bit after that of the US, so they are importing a large amount of fruit from the US, and these varieties could help curb that.  Additionally, these varieties, growing when they do, are more likely to be weather resistant because the peaches are ready for harvest before the variable conditions of the summer, in terms of drought, and the plums are later producing, also allowing them to avoid the variable summer weather.  They are hoping that the plants will go on the market as soon as possible.


Miranda Week 2: Desert Solitaire

September 4, 2017

Desert Solitaire Response:

According to Abbey: “A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” Abbey’s style of writing can be very slow and relaxing, but he also is very blunt. Abbey has strong opinions on tourism and how it is beginning of the end for the wilderness and desert beauty.

Abbey believes that the natural beauty of the desert can only be experienced through living there over an extended period of time and by closely observing it. I like how Abbey really focuses on the need for close human interaction with the wilderness. Going out into the desert should be about seeing natural beauty up close, instead of driving through it and glancing out of it through a car window.

Abbey sees the wilderness as being a “human necessity” , which needs to be preserved for all instead of being destroyed. While his idea of preserving nature may be unreasonable (eg. No more cars or new roads in national parks), Abbey really forces you to examine how much we are truly disrupting nature in our National Parks.

Overall, Abbey just wants the reader to understand how the cities we’ve built are slowly driving us insane.

Environmental News:

According to initial estimates, a spring frost (which some winemakers battled by setting fires in oil drums, which were then positioned between rows of budding grapevines) and an extreme heat wave, nicknamed ‘Lucifer’, are set to leave France and Italy with their smallest harvest for decades. In some regions yields will be down by 40%. However, there is optimism about quality. “Winemakers will be watching the skies over the next few weeks as they monitor the ripeness of their grapes.”

Garbology, Edward Humes: Max Kerns

December 15, 2016

Garbology by Edward Humes was a very enlightening read. What I thought was most thought provoking were the ideas surrounding the underworld of garbage removal. We often do not take time to think about where our garbage goes, how it is processed, or who even deals with it. The idea that every person living in the United States creates on average about 102 tons of garbage in a lifetime was staggering. It really made me think about my own personal garbage footprint and how much waste I create.

Some of the things I liked in the book:

I really liked the grey box highlights throughout the book. Things like Bea Johnson’s list on page 285, history of the plastic bag page 217, etc.

The Nerds Vs. Nurdles chapter was very interesting. It is hard to image that only a hundred years ago there was not plastic in the oceans. Now it is hard to look anywhere in the ocean and not find some trace of plastics. The great garbage patches in the ocean are insane. One of the issues is that so many large companies use plastics now for production and transportation of goods along with use in many products. It would be nearly impossible to go through the day without using plastics in some way.

The idea about landfills being an archeological connection to the cultures and civilization of different times was fascinating. I wonder what future generation will think when they uncover some of the many landfills through the country. I would think that we are currently living in a time of mass production and waste. In my hometown of Columbus you do not have to go far to find the landfill south of the city. It amazes me how that used to be farms and plains land. Now the ever growing hill of trash is impossible to miss. It once again made me think of how much trash I have created in my lifetime and how much of it resides in that heap. I think of celebrations, diners, and general life memories that are now slowing decaying under the pressure of more trash collection. It really is mind-blowing to think of where my trash ends up.

I think my favorite chapter was 12. I like the idea of simplifying one’s life and to reduce consumption. There is something very satisfying about reusing and fixing items that we have. I know in the last few years that I have tried to downsize my need of “things”. I try not to buy as much as I once did and rarely buy new items. I have found buying clothing and good from thrift stores is not only cheaper but gives items a second life. It made me think of local artist that use waste items to create art. I love the idea of making something old new again.

Finally, the book made me take a more serious look at how much waste there is in everyday life. Especially living on a college campus where convenience tends to dictate packaging. However one of the things that really get me going is the amount of junk mail, flyers, and general paper waste that is delivered to me daily. I have currently found no method of making this stop and it aggravates me to no end.   It seems silly to me that I have to accept this form of waste and have no control over it.